By the end of the day, there are thousands of e-scooters left stranded with depleted batteries on corners, sidewalks, and back alleys. However, each one could be hiding a unique opportunity to make some money on the side.
Across major US and European cities, companies such as Lime, Bird, Lyft, and Spin have outsourced the task of recharging their scooters to anyone with their app and the right charger. Each program can vary in terms of pay rates, requirements, etc. In this article, we will summarily explore what the job of a ‘charger’ looks like, whether it’s worth the effort, and if it is—how to do it well.
Becoming a Charger
Let’s begin with some clarifications on how to make money charging scooters. To start working as a charger, one must first sign up with one of the e-scooter companies. This typically involves downloading their respective app and completing a registration process.
The requirements for becoming a charger can vary by company but generally include:
- Being at least 18 years old.
- Having a smartphone.
- Owning or having access to a vehicle to collect and redistribute the scooters.
Additionally, while some companies may distribute the adapters for at-home charging, others expect the adapters to be bought by the workers themselves.
Once registered, chargers use the app to locate scooters that need charging. These scooters are often scattered throughout the city and are indicated on the app’s map. The task involves picking up these scooters, taking them to a charging location (usually the charger’s home), charging them overnight, and then placing them back at designated areas in the morning.
How Much Do Chargers Earn
Bird and Lime have been reported to have a base payout of approximately $3 to $5 per scooter charged and released. However, it has also been claimed that, based on additional factors, Bird chargers can expect an earning of up to $20 per scooter. Those additional factors can include the level of battery charge before the pickup, time of day, distance away from the charger, etc.
How much of the income remains after deducting the costs of travel and electricity naturally depends on the individual’s setup and electricity plans. However, as a point of reference, several analyses found that, for instance, in US cities, charging up an electric scooter tends to cost around $0.15.
Electricity and travel costs aside, there is one more earning factor to consider: the amount of scooters available for pickup. In order to avoid running into stale periods, where there may be too many chargers working on a single area for a single e-scooter company, chargers typically enroll in several charging programs at once. This significantly increases the ceiling of potential earnings.
Charger Optimization Tactics
Once you’re set up as a charger, optimizing your efficiency is key. Successful chargers develop strategies to maximize their earnings while minimizing expenses and effort. This includes planning optimal routes for picking up and dropping off scooters, as well as managing charging schedules to ensure all scooters are charged and ready by the designated time.
- Strategic Planning for Pickup and Drop-off: Map out the most efficient routes in your area. Use the app to plan a route that minimizes driving time and maximizes the number of scooters you can pick up.
- Focus on High-Demand Areas: Identify areas where scooters are used more frequently. These can often be university campuses, central stations, and supermarkets. It’s often that those areas have a higher turnaround of scooters needing charging and can be more profitable.
- Prioritize Scooters with Higher Payouts: Some apps show the payout for each scooter. Prioritize those with higher payouts, which are often those that are harder to find or have a lower battery charge.
- Use Multiple Charging Adapters: If the company allows, using multiple charging adapters can increase the number of scooters you can charge simultaneously, boosting your income potential.
- Leverage Off-Peak Electricity Rates: If your utility company offers lower rates during off-peak hours, take advantage of these times to charge the scooters.
If, at this point, you’re only left with the question of which e-scooter company to prioritize, we recommend looking through articles comparing the benefits and drawbacks of different employers.
In summary, the role of an e-scooter charger offers a unique blend of flexibility, physical activity, and the potential for a decent side income. It stands out as a venture that is accessible to many, requiring minimal upfront investment but offering tangible returns.
While the job may have its challenges, such as varying income based on location, competition, and the physical task of handling multiple scooters, it also brings a sense of autonomy and the satisfaction of contributing to a greener environment. The key to success lies in strategic planning, understanding the nuances of different e-scooter companies, and adapting to the ever-changing dynamics of city life.